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What Is a Quilt Table Runner?

By Sheri Cyprus
Updated May 16, 2024
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A quilt table runner is a hand-quilted or machine-quilted section of fabric designed to cover the lengthwise middle part of most dining tables. Unlike a tablecloth that covers the entire top of a table, a runner leaves the table's sides bare. Table runners are often made by beginning quilters as a practice project before tackling a large quilt or bedspread. A quilt table runner may be simple or complex in design and could feature a wide range of quilted blocks or just squares of different fabrics sewn together.

The simplest quilt table runners have fewer pieces that are also larger in size. A person who has never done any quilting may create a simple table runner using a series of squares cut in different fabrics, but all in the same size. A more experienced quilter is likely to choose more detailed table runner projects with small fabric pieces to sew together. An elaborate trim and/or added fancy quilting or embroidery stitches in metallic or other thread may be added to a more complex quilt table runner project.

Like larger projects such as bed quilts, quilted table runners typically include a pieced-together top section, a middle layer of batting and a bottom layer of fabric. Stitching on the top of the quilt table runner will make the batting, or padding, puff out in the desired sections between the stitches to create a pattern. Usually though, the shape of many quilted runners for dining tables is fairly flat so that items such as a fruit bowl, centerpiece or candle sticks can be placed on it and remain stable. Both store-bought and handmade table runners may be hand or machine quilted.

Some novelty quilt table runners have an interesting feature such as a useable fabric chess board right in the design. A quilted table runner may feature a different type of design in the center than on either end, or it may be consistent throughout. Some of these runners feature borders, while others may have only the edge of the quilt backing showing on the front. It's also possible for a table runner quilt to have the edges tucked under and sewn from inside. Rather than being a long, rectangular or oblong piece of quilted fabric, a runner may be made up of separate shapes or blocks joined together, such as in a row of quilt stars attached at the same point on each star.

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